Millie gets the best Christmas present of all – a new home

22 December 2011

It’s not just Christmas that’s giving Millie Springer a twinkle in her eye. The ten-year-old, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is looking forward to spending the festivities in her brand new specially adapted home in Blackawton with mother Gina and brother Josh.

The plight of the Springer family came to the attention of Hastoe Housing Association and South Hams District Council earlier this year. The family had been living in a property owned by elderly relatives who decided to sell up and downsize, leaving Gina and the children without a home.

At about the same time, Hastoe started building work on five new affordable homes in Gina’s village, Blackawton. A chance ‘phone call by Gina’s sister to Hastoe started the ball rolling. As Gina had lived in the village for many years, she qualified for one of the homes in Cheavestone Terrace but as young Millie is a full time wheelchair user, the property needed to be extended and adapted to meet her needs.

In August, a meeting was held at the property plot with officers from South Hams District Council, the Council’s Executive Member for Housing Cllr Mike Saltern, ward councillor for the area Cllr John Tucker, Gina, Hastoe Housing Association, the architect, Walker Newton, and the builder, Coyde Construction.

Within weeks, building regulations were approved, planning permission was granted for the extension, funding for the extra work organised and building work began.

South Hams District Council approved a £30,000 Disabled Facilities Grant towards the cost of the adaptation works, Hastoe gave a further £5,000 and covered the architects’ fees of £3,000, while Devon County Council’s Social Services gave a grant of £7,000.

All rooms on the ground floor of the house are wheelchair accessible, with a ground floor bedroom for Millie, complete with an en suite bathroom and wet room. The property also includes ceiling track hoists to help lift Millie.

The Springers moved into their home earlier this month and Gina said: “I’m very grateful to all who have helped us. Everyone has shown true grit and determination to make this happen. It means so much to us.
“We can stay in the community we love where there are wonderful people around us who help look after Millie. Her carer, Fern Coe, lives in the village too. Millie loves her new home and is very excited about it. Josh is settling in well too and it’s giving him more independence as we’re closer to the bus stop.”

Hastoe Area Housing Manager, Martin Short, said: “We are delighted to have been able to help the Springer family when they needed it the most. They are fully deserving of their new home and it is great that we could complete the building work in time for them to move in for Christmas. We wish Gina, Millie and Josh all the best for the future, we are sure they will continue to be very happy.”
Cllr Tucker, who represents the area on South Hams District Council, said: “I’m delighted for Gina and her family. The village is very supportive of her. The whole project has been a wonderful example of the public and private sector working together for the good of this family who needed our help.”

Cllr Saltern added: “Trying to meet housing needs is seldom without difficulties but I have never been more touched than by seeing how everyone came together in such a short period time to address the family's needs. There are so many people to thank for their commitment. I would particularly like to thank Hastoe Housing Association for working so closely with us and would also highlight the contribution of our own South Hams District Council technical officer Mark Nicol for all his co-ordination and input leading to the award of the Disabled Facilities Grant.

“On a personal note, I would like to wish the Springer family a very happy Christmas in their new home and everything they would wish for in the years ahead.”